How to Install Peel and Stick Vinyl Floor Squares

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One of the fastest and least expensive ways to update the floor of a kitchen, bathroom or laundry area is by applying peel-and-stick vinyl squares. These convenient flooring tiles come in modern faux-stone designs and updated color schemes. The peel-off paper makes installation easy for anyone with limited experience in home improvement.

Things You'll Need

  • 1-inch putty knife
  • Screwdriver (optional)
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Embossing leveler (optional)
  • Tape measure
  • Wax pencil (a dark crayon will also work)
  • Straight edge (yardstick will work)
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Rolling pin
  • Hammer and brads
  • Caulk (as needed)
  • Remove shoe molding and thresholds at the perimeter of the floor as necessary. Use a utility knife to cut any caulk-filled corners or joints and then gently pry the shoe molding away from cabinets and baseboards. Metal threshold plates can be unscrewed or pried loose with a hammer claw. Pull nails out of the shoe molding from the back side so the molding can be reused at the end of the project.

  • Repair the existing floor surface by hammering any nail pops. These occur when a nail rises from the subfloor and makes a lump under the vinyl. Fill gouges or holes using embossing leveler and a putty knife so that the new floor has a smooth surface on which to adhere.

  • Clean the floor thoroughly. Remove any caulk abutting the fixtures (commodes or tubs). Remove all grit to prevent trapping the dirt under the new tiles.

  • Measure the length of the floor and mark the center with the wax pencil. Measure the width of the floor and make an "X" where the two marks meet. This is the approximate center of your floor. No room is exactly square, so stand in the doorway of the room and look around to determine the section of floor with the highest visibility. Areas behind commodes or under cabinets are often hidden while a floor section along a wall may be highly visible.

    Use the exposed section to establish alignment of the tiles so that they will appear to be straight along that side. Measure and draw a long line in the center of the floor (crossing your earlier mark) based on alignment with the exposed side. This will give you a guide when laying the tile. Draw a perpendicular line crossing at the center mark for your starting point.

  • Select a tile and peel back one corner. Setting the first tile square is the most important step. Carefully align the corner at the intersection of your wax lines and peel back the paper, making sure that the side of the tile is positioned exactly along the wax line. Once the tile is in position, press it firmly into contact with the old floor. Use a rolling pin and your body weight to roll each tile after it is installed for best adhesion.

  • Lay tile from the center out; this will allow for cuts along walls, at corners and behind fixtures where the cuts are less visible. Each vinyl tile should press firmly against the next, leaving no gap.

  • Use paper-backing sheets from already laid tiles to pre-fit tiles around fixtures. Cut the paper until it fits exactly. Use the paper as a pattern to cut the actual tile that will fill the space. Do not overcut any lines--they will tend to collect dirt when the new floor is in place.

  • Reinstall the shoe molding using a hammer and brads after the new floor is installed. Finish by installing the door thresholds and recaulking as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Select neutral tiles and randomly rotate the tiles during installation to increase the visual differences. This will help make the new tiles look like natural stone or ceramics. Keep the joints tight and in line. Repaint the baseboards and shoe molding after the new floor is installed to tie the trim together.

References

  • Photo Credit F.R.R. Mallory
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